Reality or myth: Is Romania first in Europe for women in top management positions?
A statement by prime minister Nicolae Ciuca raises an interesting debate: is Romania really the European leader when it comes to women’s inclusion and promotion in top management positions or is this just another myth that has been adopted in local folklore that just pops up whenever politicians find it convenient.
“Romania is first in Europe for the number of women in top management,” prime minister Nicolae Ciuca was quoted as saying at the Women in Tech conference in Cluj-Napoca. His statement quickly became a headline in the digital media. The prime minister disclosed that he had seen the information in “some material” without mentioning the source. He also said that he saw many women at the event, which confirms the "relevance" that women have in the projects taking place in Cluj-Napoca.
It is possible that the material the prime minister is referring to is this report by the European Institute for Gender Equality, which shows that Romania has, indeed, the highest share of women in top executive positions in the EU (31.6%), above the EU average of 20.8%. However, the report only covers publicly-traded companies, which means its findings don’t apply to the whole economy. The number of companies listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange – just 83 on the main market – is still farm from representative for the local economy, where there are over 2 million registered companies.
The same report shows that 12.5% of the listed companies in Romania have women CEOs, which is above the EU average of 7.9%, but below the share of women CEOs in countries like Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovakia, which is close to 20%.
The wider statistics provided by Eurostat show a slightly different situation: just under a third (33.2%) of the managers in Romania are women, which is less than the EU average of 35%. Based on this data, Romania ranks in the bottom half in EU for the share of women managers, although higher than some Western countries such as Germany (29.6%), Italy (28.7%), and the Netherlands (26.6%). Meanwhile, the EU leaders are Latvia, where almost half of managers (47.5%) are women, Poland (44.6%), Estonia (43.6%), Sweden (42.6%) and Finland (41.4%). Romania’s neighbors Bulgaria and Hungary also have shares of over 36% for women in management positions.
While Romania has been making progress in terms of women inclusion in business and has one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the EU, the country is not quite the EU leader in terms of gender balance. On the contrary, a Deloitte report shows that women in leadership positions in Romania are promoted less frequently than their male peers.
Meanwhile, Romania is among the last in the EU for the share of women in the Parliament, with 20%, under the EU average of 33%, according to Eurostat data. Sweden has a 50-50% gender distribution of MP seats in its Parliament.
However, the best indicator of women’s representation in local politics is the fact that the cabinet led by prime minister Nicolae Ciuca has 21 men and just one woman – who leads the Ministry of Family, Youth and Equal Opportunities.